Some Words on Loving Shakespeare

by William A. Quayle

What a soul wants is to feel itself of service. Life's chances seem drunk up like the dews from morning flowers in burning summer times. To risk literary adventure after these centuries of thinking and saying (and such thinking and such saying!), requires the audacity of a simpleton or the boldness of the old discoverers. Every patch of literary ground seems occupied, as those fertile valleys lifting from sea-levels along a shining stream to the far hills and fair. So much has been said on Shakespeare, and he has stung men to such profound and fertile sayings, that to speak of him seems an impertinence. I have never seen an essay on Shakespeare I have not run to read. Whoever holds the cup, I will drain it dry, if filled with wine from this rare vintage. Practically all our great writers have dreamed of him, and told their dreams; and many a writer who makes no claim to greatness has done the same. Some people you can not keep your eyes off of; and of these Shakespeare is one. Who has n't talked of him? When Alfred Tennyson lay dying in the white moonlight, his son tells how he held the play of Cymbeline in his dying hands, as was fitting, seeing he had held it in his living hands through many golden years. Than this dying tribute, Shakespeare never had more gracious compliment paid his genius. Who passes Shakespeare in his library without a caress of eye or hand? I would apologize if I were guilty of such a breach of literary etiquette. Boswell's Johnson edited Shakespeare; and Charles Lamb and Goethe and DeQuincey and Coleridge and Taine and Lowell and Carlyle and Emerson have written of him, some of them greatly. I wonder Macaulay kept hands from him, but probably because he was the historian of action rather than letters; and after reading what these have said, how can one be but silenced?

But it has seemed to me that, while there was a wilderness of writing about Shakespeare as a genius and as a whole, there was co-operative dearth of writings on the individual dramas. Authors content themselves with writing on the dramatist, and neglect to write upon the dramas. If this be true, may there not be an unoccupied plot of ground where a late-comer may pitch tent, as under the hemlocks by some babbling water, and feel himself in some real way proprietary? I have discovered a growing feeling in my thought that enough has not been said, and can not be said, about the Macbeths and Tempests and Lears and Hamlets.

Shakespeare is too massive to be discussed in an hour. One essay will not suffice for him. He is as a mountain, whose majesty and multitudinous beauty, meaning, and magnitude and impress, must be gotten by slow processes in journeying about it through many days. Who sits under its pines at noon, lies beside its streams for rest, walks under its lengthening shadows as under a cloud, and has listened to the voices of its waterfalls, thrilling the night and calling to the spacious firmament as if with intent to be heard "very far off," has thus learned the mountain, vast of girth, kingly in altitude, perpetual in sovereignty. We study a world's circumference by segments; nor let us suppose we can do other by this cosmopolitan Shakespeare. He, so far as touches our earth horizon, is ubiquitous. Looking at him sum-totally, we feel his mass, and say we have looked upon majesty. But as a mountain is, in circumference and altitude, always beckoning us on, as if saying, "My summit is not far away, but near," and so spurring our laggard steps to espouse the ascent, and toiling on, on, still on, a little further—only a little further—till heart and flesh all but fail and faint, but for the might of will, we fall to rise again, and try once more, till we fall upon the summit, and lie on thresholds leading to the stars. The mountain understated its magnitude to us—not of intent, but in simple modesty. I think it did not itself know its mass. Greatness has a subtle self-depreciation; and we shall come to know our huge Shakespeare only by approaching him on foot. He must be studied in fragments. His plays, if I may be pardoned for coining a word, need not an omnigraph, but monographs. Let Shakespeare be, and give eye and ear to his history, comedy, tragedy; and when we have done with them, one by one, we shall discover how the aggregated mass climbs taller than highest mountains. This method, in tentative fashion, I propose to apply in some studies in this volume, or other volumes, believing that the company of those who love Shakespeare can never be large enough for his merits, and that many are kept away from the witchery of him because they do not well know the fine art of approaching him. I would, therefore, be a doorkeeper, and throw some doors wide open, that men and women may unhindered enter. This essay aims to stand as a porter at the gate. We shall never overestimate Shakespeare, because we can not. Some men and things lie beyond the danger of hyperbole. No exaggeration is possible concerning them, seeing they transcend all dreams. Space can not be conceived by the most luxuriant imagination, holding, as it does, all worlds, and capable of holding another universe besides, and with room to spare. Clearly, we can not overestimate space. Thought and vocabulary become bankrupt when they attempt this bewildering deed. Genius is as immeasurable as space. Shakespeare can not be measured. We can not go about him, since life fails, leaving the journey not quite well begun. Yet may we attempt what can not be performed, because each attempt makes us worthy, and we are measured, not by what we achieve, but by what we attempt, as Lowell writes:

  "Grandly begin! Though thou have time
  But for one line, be that sublime:
  Not failure, but low aim, is crime."

The eaglet's failure in attempted flight teaches him to outsoar clouds. We are not so greatly concerned that we find the sources of the Nile as that we search for them. In this lie our triumph and reward.

Besides all this, may there not be a place for more of what may be named inspirational literature? Henry Van Dyke has coined a happy phrase in giving title to his delightful volume on "The Poetry of Tennyson," calling his papers "Essays in Vital Criticism." I like the thought. Literature is life, always that, in so far as literature is great; for literature tells our human story. Essayist, novelist, poet, are all doing one thing, as are sculptor, painter, architect. Of detail criticism ("dry-as-dust" criticism, to use Carlyle's term) there is much, though none too much, which work requires scholarship and painstaking, and is necessary. Malone is a requirement of Shakespearean study. But, candidly, is verbal, textual criticism the largest, truest criticism? Dust is not man, though man is dust. No geologist's biography of the marble from Carrara, nor a biographer's sketch of the sculptor, will explain the statue, nor do justice to the artist's conception. I, for one, want to feel the poet's pulse-beat, brain-beat, heart-beat. What does he mean? Let us catch this speaker's words. What was that he said? Let me feel sure I have his meaning. We may break a poem up into bits, like pieces of branches picked up in a woodland path; but is this what the poet would have desired? He takes lexicons and changes them into literatures, begins with words, ends with poems. His art was synthetic. He was not a crab, to move backward, but a man, to move forward; and his poetry is not débris, like the broken branch, but is exquisite grace and moving music. Tears come to us naturally, like rain to summer clouds, when we have read his words. Much criticism is dry as desiccated foods, though we can not believe this is the nobler criticism, since God's growing fruit is his best fruit. A tree with climbing saps and tossing branches, fertile in shade and sweet with music, is surely fairer and truer than a dead, uprooted, prostrate, decaying trunk. This, then, would I aspire humbly to do with Shakespeare or another, to help men to his secret; for to admit men to any poet's provinces is nothing other than to introduce them

  "To the island valley of Avilion,
  Where falls not hail nor rain nor any snow,
  Nor ever wind blows loudly; but it lies
  Deep-meadowed, happy, fair with orchard lawns,
  And bowery hollows crowned with summer seas."

There is no trace of exaggeration in saying: Many people frequent theaters ostensibly for the purpose of understanding the great dramatists, and, leading thereto, seeing noted tragedians act Lear, Richard III, Julius Caesar, Hamlet, and at the end of years of attendance have no conception of these dramas as a whole. They had heard one voice among the many; but when the many voices blended, what all meant they can not begin to guess. What playgoer will give a valid analysis of King Lear? Ask him, and his ideas will be chaotic as clouds on a stormy night. Not even the elder Kean is the best interpreter of Shakespeare; for the dramatist reserves that function to himself—Shakespeare is his own best interpreter. Dream over his plays by moonlit nights; pore over his pages till chilly skies grow gray with dawn; read a play without rising from the ingratiating task, and you, not a tragedian, will have a conception of the play. I will rather risk getting at an understanding of beautiful, bewitching Rosalind by reading and rereading "As You Like It," than by all theaters and stage-scenes and players. A dramatist is his own best interpreter. The most discerning critics of the great dramas are not theater-goers. The theater runs to eyes; study runs to thought. In a theater the actor thinks for us; in a study we think for ourselves. For contemporaries of "The Letters of Junius" to attempt guessing who Junius was, was plainly exhilarating as a walk at morning along a country lane. To attempt the interpretation of a Shakespeare's tragedy for yourself is no less so. Believe in your own capabilities, and test your own powers. Conceive of Shakespeare's folk, not as dead and past, but as living. These men and women, among whom we move, are those among whom Shakespeare moved. Ages change customs and costumes, but not characters. Bring Shakespeare down to now, and see how rational his men and women become; and we, as central to his movement, may begin to reckon on the periodicity of souls as of comets. I would have people inherit Shakespeare as they inherit Newton's discoveries or Columbus's new world.

And as we know, we shall learn to trust, Shakespeare. He is uniformly truthful. He may sin against geographical veracity, as when he names Bohemia a maritime province; or he may give Christian reasonings to ancient heathen; but these are errata, not falsehoods; and besides, these are mistakes of a colorist, or in background of figure-painting, and do not touch the real province of the dramatist, whose office is not to paint landscapes, but figures—and figures not of physique, but of soul—the delineation of character being the dramatist's business. Here is Shakespeare always accurate. To argue with him savors of petulancy or childish ignorance or egotism. Some people ourselves have met had no sense of character, as some have no sense of color. They do not perceive logical continuity here, as in reasoning, but approach each person as an isolated fact, whereas souls are a series—men repeating men, women repeating women, in large measure, as a child steps in his father's tracks across a field of snow in winter. Other people seem intuitively to read character, being able to shut their eyes and see more than others with eyes open, having a faculty for practical psychology, which is little less than miracle, as in Tennyson, who was not a man among men—being shy as a whip-poor-will, seclusive as flowers which haunt the woodland shadows—yet those reading him must know how accurately he reads the human heart; and his characterization of Guinevere, Pelleas, Bedivere, Enid, the lover in Maud, à Becket, the Princess, Philip, Enoch Arden, and Dora, are, in accuracy, as

"Perfect music unto noble words."

Some people are born to this profound insight as storm-petrels for the seas, needing not to be tutored, and are as men and women to whom we tell our secrets, scarce knowing why we do. But Shakespeare knows what the sphinx thinks, if anybody does. His genius is penetrative as cold midwinter entering every room, and making warmth shiver in ague fits. I think Shakespeare never errs in his logical sequence in character. He surprises us, seems unnatural to us, but because we have been superficial observers; while genius will disclose those truths to which we are blind. Recur to Ophelia, whom Goethe has discussed with such insight. Ophelia is, to our eyes and ears, pure as air. We find no fault in her. Certainly, from any standpoint, her conduct is irreproachable; yet, surprisingly enough, when she becomes insane, she sings tainted songs, and salacious suggestions are on her lips, which in sane hours never uttered a syllable of such a sort. And Shakespeare is wrong? No; follow him. Thoughts are like rooms when shutters are closed and blinds down, and can not, therefore, be seen. We tell our thoughts, or conceal them, according to our desire or secretiveness, and speech may or may not be a full index to thought; and Shakespeare would indicate that fair Ophelia, love-lorn and neglected; fair Ophelia, whose words and conduct were unexceptional, even to the sharp eyes of a precisian—fair Ophelia cherished thoughts not meet for maidenhood, and in her heart toyed with voluptuousness. I know nothing more accurate; and the penetration of this poet seems, for the moment, something more than human. After a single example, such as adduced, would not he be guilty of temerity who would question Shakespeare's accuracy in character delineation? The sum of what has been said on this point is, distrust yourself rather than Shakespeare; and when your notions and his are not coincident, or when, more strongly stated, you feel sure that here for once he is inaccurate, reckon that he is profounder than you, and do you begin to seek for a hidden path as one lost in a wilderness, when, in all probability, you will discover that what you deemed inexact was in reality a profounder truth than had come under your observation. Nor would a discussion of Shakespeare's truthfulness be rounded out should his value as historian be omitted. He is profoundest of philosophical historians, compelling the motives in historic personages to disclose themselves, while, in the main, his historical data are correct as understood in his day. He has not juggled with facts, though in instances where he has taken liberty with events he has, by such change in historic setting, made the main issues more apparent. Some one has said that simply as historian of England Shakespeare has done nobly by his country, which remark I, for one, think accurate. Beginning with King John, he keeps the main channels of English history to the birth of Elizabeth, where, in a spirit of subtle courtesy, he makes the destination of his historical studies. If the purpose of noble history be to make us understand men and, consequently, measures, then is Shakespeare still the greatest English historian. Richard III never becomes so understandable as in the drama; and Henry IV is a figure clearly seen, as if he stood in the sunlight before our eyes, so that any one conversant with these history-plays is fortified against all stress in solid knowledge and profound insight into turbulent eras of Anglo-Saxon history; for Shakespeare has given us history carved in relief, as are the metopes of the Parthenon. For knowledge psychologically and historically accurate commend me to William Shakespeare, historian.

The lover is Shakespeare's main thesis; and his lovers—men and women—never violate the proprieties of love. What his lovers do has been done and will be done. Helena, in "All's Well that Ends Well," is a true phase of womanhood; and in those days of the more general infidelity and lordship of man, more common than now—though now this picture is truthful—woman has a power of self-sacrifice and rigorous self-denial when in love, which, as it is totally unconscious on her part, is as totally inexplicable on our part. Life is not a condition easily explained. The heart of simplest man or woman is a mystery, compared with which the sphinx is an open secret. The vagaries of love in life are the vagaries of love in Shakespeare. Life was his book, which he knew by heart. Rosalind, in "As You Like It," is a portrait both fair and accurate. We have seen Rosalind, and the sight of her was good for the eyes. To read Shakespeare is to be told what we ourselves have seen, we not recognizing the people we had met until he whispers in our ears, "You have seen her and him;" whereat we answer, "Yes, truly, so we have, though we did not know it till you told us."

Shakespeare is philosopher of both sexes, though this is not the rule, as we will readily agree, thinking over the great portrait painters of character. To state a single illustrative case: Hall Caine must be allowed to have framed some mighty men, tragic, or melodramatic sometimes, somber always, but men of bulk and character. Pete, in "The Manxman," is a creation sufficient to make the artist conceiving him immortal; and Red Jason is no less real, manly, mighty, self-mastering, self-surrendering. Caine's men are giants; but his women do not satisfy and seldom interest us, with an exception in a few cases—as with Naomi in "The Scape Goat," and Greeba, wife of Michal Sunlocks; though Naomi is little more than a figure seen at a doorway, standing in the sun; for she has not forged a character up to the time when her lover puts arm about her, as she droops above her dying father, when his vast love would make him immortal for her sake. Glory Quayle is interesting, but unsatisfactory. My belief is that Tolstoi has drawn no man approaching his astonishing Anna Karenina. Shakespeare is ambidexter here. All things are seemingly native to him; for he is never at a loss. Not words, thoughts, dreams, images, music, fail him for a moment even. Who found him feeling for a word? Did we not find them ready at his hand as Ariel was ready to serve Prospero? Lear, Prospero, Brutus, Cassius, Falstaff, Iago, Macbeth, Hamlet, are as crowning creations as Cleopatra, Miranda, Lady Macbeth, Katharine the Shrew, Imogen, or Cordelia. We know not which to choose, as one who looks through a mountain vista to the sea, declaring each view fairer than the last, yet knowing if he might choose any one for a perpetual possession he could not make decision. We are incapable of choosing between Shakespeare's men and his women.

Small volumes are best for reading Shakespeare, for this reason: In large volumes the dramas get lost to your thought, as a nook of beauty is apt to get lost in the abundant beauty of summer hills, solely because there are so many; but when put into small volumes, each play becomes individualized, made solitary, and stands out like a tree growing in a wide field alone. Do not conceive of Shakespeare's plays as marble column, pediment, frieze, metope, built into a Parthenon, but conceive of each play as a Parthenon; for I think it certain each one might have stood solitary on cape or hill, as those old Greeks built temples to their tutelar deities. He wrote so much and so greatly as to bewilder us, just as night does with her multitudinous stars. Who maps the astral globe will divide his heavens into sections, so he may chart his constellations. The like must be done with Shakespeare. A great painting is always at more of an advantage in a room of its own than in a gallery, since each picture is in a way a distraction, stealing a trifle of beauty from its fellow, though adding nothing to itself thereby. "Come," we say to a dear friend from whom we have been parted for a long time, "come, let me have you alone," and you walk across a field, and sit in the singing shadows of the pines—you appropriate your friend. Do the same with a poem; for in such a wilderness of beauty send majesty as Shakespeare's plays this need becomes imperative. Pursuant to this suggestion, I recur to a previous thought on Shakespearean criticism that, rich as it is, is defective in this individualization—so much being written on the whole, so little in comparison on the parts. Each drama fills our field of vision, and justifies a dissertation. Each dialogue of Plato demands an essay by Jowett. How well, then, may each dialogue of Shakespeare demand a separate study! There is distinct gain in looking at a landscape from a window, sitting a little back from the window-sill, the view being thus framed as a picture, and the superfluous horizon cut off; and the relevancies, as I may say, are included and the irrelevancies excluded; for in looking at too much we are losers, not gainers, the eye failing to catch the entirety of meaning. Here is the advantage of the landscape painter, who seizes the view to which we should restrict our eyes, bringing into compass of canvas what we should have brought into compass of sky and scene, but did not. So these window views of Shakespeare are what we greatly need now, and are what Hudson and Rolfe and Ulrici and the various editors of note have given.

But after all, the best interpretation of a drama or any poem is to be gained first hand, nothing being clearer than that every poem challenges individual interpretation, as if saying, "What do you think I mean?" There is too much knowing productions by proxy, of being conversant with what every sort of body thinks about Hamlet, but ourselves being a void so far as distinctively individual opinion goes. A poem, like the Scriptures, is its own best interpreter; and there is always scope for the personal equation in judging literature, because criticism is empiricism in any case, being opinion set against opinion. Different people think different things, and that is the end. Literary criticism can never be an exact science, and everybody may have and should have an opinion. Great productions have never had their meaning exhausted, since meanings are an infinite series. So, to get an interpretation of Cymbeline, say, get into the midst of the drama, as if it were a stream and you a boatman in your boat. Commit you to the drama's flood, omitting for a time what others have thought, and read as if the poem were a fresh manuscript found by you, and read with such avidity as scholars of the Renaissance knew when a palimpsest of Tacitus or Theocritus was found. Let your imagination, as well as the poet's, spread wings. Become creative yourself; for this is true: No one can rightly conceive any work of imagination and be himself unimaginative. Read and re-read, and at length, like the cliffs of shore rising out of ocean mists, dim, but stable and increasingly palpable, will come a scheme of meaning. Miss nothing. Let no beauty elude you. Odors must not waste; we, in a spirit of lofty economy, must inhale them. Watch the drift of verbal trifles; for Shakespeare uses no superfluities. His meaning dominates his method; his modulations are prophetic. See, therefore, that he does not elude you, escaping at some path or shadow, but cling to his garments, however swiftly he runs. Such study will bear fruit of sure triumph in your conceiving a hidden import of a great drama. This method of self-assertiveness in reading is logical and invigorating. Think as well as be thought for.

Of all poets, Shakespeare is richest in the material of simile. He thought in pictures, which is another way of saying he wooed comparatives. Thought is inert; and he is greatest in expression who can supply his thinking with ruddy blood, flush the pallid cheek, make the dull eye bright, and make laughter run across the face like ripples of sunshine across water touched by the wind. In Shakespeare's turn of phrase and use of figure is a fertility of suggestion such as even Dante can not approximate. He is unusual, which is a merit; for thus is mind kept on the alert, like a sentinel fearing surprise. Of this an essay might be filled with illustrations. He does not try to use figures, but can not keep from using them. As stars flash into light, so he flashes into metaphor, metonymy, trope, personification, or simile. Because he sees everything, is he fertile in suggestion, and his comparisons are numerous as his thoughts. See how his figures multiply as you have seen foam-caps multiply on waves when the wind rises on the sea!

"We burn daylight."

  "Nay, the world 's my oyster,
  Which I with sword shall open."

"I hold you as a thing enskied and sainted."

      "My library
  Was dukedom large enough."

"Into the eye and prospect of his soul."

  "Make a swan-like end,
  Fading in music."

"Those blessed candles of the night."

  "The schoolboy, with his satchel
  And shining, morning face."

  "Like an unseasonable stormy day,
  Which makes the silver rivers drown their shores."

"He fires the proud tops of the eastern pines."

  "And must I ravel out
  My weaved-up follies?"

  "Give sorrow leave awhile to tutor me
  To this submission."

  "The gaudy, babbling, and remorseless day
  Is crept into the bosom of the sea."

  "There is some soul of goodness in things evil,
  Would men observingly distill it out."

  "He hath a tear for pity, and a hand
  Open as day for melting charity."

  "That daffed the world aside,
  And bid it pass."

  "He is come to ope
  The purple testament of bleeding war."

  "She sat, like patience on a monument,
  Smiling at grief."

  "That strain again; it had a dying fall:
  O, it came o'er my ear like the sweet south,
  That breathes upon a bank of violets,
  Stealing and giving odor."

"For courage mounts with occasion."

      "Here I and sorrows sit;
  Here is my throne; bid kings come bow to it."

"Death's dateless night."

  "Life is as tedious as a twice-told tale,
  Vexing the dull ear of a drowsy man."

    "The tongues of dying men
  Enforce attention like deep harmony."

  "Falstaff sweats to death,
  And lards the lean earth as he walks along."

  "I have set my life upon a cast,
  And I will stand the hazard of the die."

      "'T is better to be lowly born,
  And range with humble livers in content,
  Than be perked up in glistering grief,
  And wear a golden sorrow."

"An old man broken with the storms of state."

"Care keeps his watch in every old man's eye."

  "Night's candles are burnt out, and jocund day
  Stands tiptoe on the misty mountain-tops."

"Within the book and volume of my brain."

  "One vial full of Edward's blood is cracked,
   And all the precious liquor spilt."

In such quest as this, one is enticed as if he followed the windings of a stream under the shadows of the trees. Past waterfall and banks of flowers and choiring of the birds, he goes on forever, except he force himself to pause. Shakespeare is always an enticement, whose turns of poetic thought and verbiage are a pure delight. Note this quality in the quotations—a word naturally expresses a thought. Shakespeare's figures express a series of thoughts as varied landscapes seen in pictures; in consequence, to read him is to see resemblances in things, because we have sharpened vision and can not, after reading him, be blind as we were before, but feel the plethora of our world with the poetic. After he has spoken for us and to us, the world's capacity is enlarged; we are, in truth, not so much as those who have read poetry as we are like those who have seen the world pass before our eyes. We thought the world a stream run dry; but lo! the bed is full of waters, flooded from remote hills, where snowdrifts melt and make perpetual rivers. After hearing him, we expect things of our world; its fertility seems so exhaustless.

Shakespeare has no hint of invalidism about him, but is the person, not the picture, of perfect health. Not an intimation of the hypochondriac nor of the convalescent do I find in him. He is healthy, and his voice rings out like a bell on a frosty night. Take his hand, and you feel shaking hands, not with Aesculapius, but with Health. To be ailing when Shakespeare is about is an impertinence for which you feel compelled to offer apology. Does not this express our feeling about this poet? He is well, always well, and laughs at the notion of sickness. He starts a-walking, and unconsciously runs, as a schoolboy after school. His smile breaks into ringing laughter; and he, not you, knows why he either smiles or laughs. He and sunlight seem close of kin. A mountain is a challenge he never refuses, but scales it by bounds, like a deer when pursued by the hunter and the hound. He is not tonic, but bracing air and perfect health and youth, which makes labor a holiday and care a jest. Shakespeare is never morose. Dante is the picture of melancholy, Shakespeare the picture of resilient joy. Tennyson beheld "three spirits, mad with joy, dash down upon a wayside flower;" and our dramatist is like them. Life laughs on greeting him; the grave grows dim to sight when he is near, and you see the deep sky instead, and across it wheel wild birds in happy motion. In Tennyson is perpetual melancholy—the mood and destiny of poetry, as I suppose—but Shakespeare is not melancholy, nor does he know how to be. His face is never sad, I think, and he is fonder of Jack Falstaff than we are apt to suppose; for health riots in his blood. He weeps, smiles breaking through his weeping, and he turns from the grave of tragedy with laughter leaning from his eyes. Aeschylus is a poet whose face was never lit even with the candle-light of smiles; but Shakespeare, writer of tragedy, is our laughing poet. This plainly confounds our philosophy of poetry, since humor is not poetry; but he binds humor to his car as Achilles, Hector, and laughs at our upset philosophies, crying: "This is my Lear, weep for him; this my Hamlet, break your hearts for him; this my Desdemona, grow tender for her woe,—but enough: this is my Rosalind and my Miranda, my Helena and Hermione, my Orlando and Ferdinand, my Bassanio and Leontes; laugh with them"—and you render swift obedience, saying, with Lord Boyet, in "Love's Labor Lost,"

"O, I am stabbed with laughter!"

He is court jester, at whose quips the generations make merry. You can not be somber nor sober long with him, though he is deep as seas, and fathomless as air, and lonely as night, and sad betimes as autumn. He is not frivolous, but is joyous. The bounding streams, the singing trees, the leaping stags along the lake, the birds singing morning awake,—Shakespeare incorporates all these in himself. He is what may be named, in a spiritual sense, this world's animal delight in life. There is a view of life sullen as November; and to be sympathetic with this mood is to ruin life and put out all its lights. Shakespeare's resiliency of spirit would teach us what a dispassionate study of our own nature would have taught us, that to succumb to this gloom is not natural; to feel the weight of burdens all the time would conduct to insanity or death; therefore has God made bountiful provision against such outcome in the lift of cloud and lightening of burden. We forget sleep is God's rest-hour for spirit; and, besides, we read in God's Book how, "at eventide, it shall be light," an expression at once of exquisite poetry and acute observation. Our lives are healthy when natural. The crude Byronic misanthropy, even though assumed, finds no favor in Shakespeare's eyes.

Shakespeare is this world's poet—a truth hinted at before, but now needing amplifying a trifle. There is in him this-worldliness, but not other-worldliness, his characters not seeming to the full to have a sense of the invisible world. He is love's poet. His lovers are imperishable because real. He is love's laureate. Yet are his loves of this world. True, there are spurts of flight, as of an eagle with broken wing, when, as in Hamlet, he faults this world and aspires skyward, yet does not lose sight of the earth, and, like the wounded eagle in "Sohrab and Rustum," lies at last

"A heap of fluttering feathers."

Plainly, Shakespeare was a voyager in this world, and a discoverer, sailing all seas and climbing tallest altitudes to their far summits; but flight was not native to him, as if he had said:

  "We have not wings, we can not soar;
  But we have feet to scale, and climb."

I can not think him spiritual in the gracious sense. His contemporary, Edmund Spenser, was spiritual, as even Milton was not. This world made appeal to this poet of the Avon on the radiant earthly side; the very clouds flamed with a glory borrowed from the sun as he looked on them. His world was very fair. In more than a poetic sense was

"All the world a stage."

Life was a drama, hastening, shouting, exhilarating, turbulent, free, roistering, but as triumphant as Elizabeth's fleet and God's stormy waters were over Philip's great Armada. Hamlet was the terribly tragic conception in Shakespeare because he was hopeless. Can you conceive Shakespeare writing "In Memoriam?" Tennyson was pre-eminently spiritual, and "In Memoriam" is his breath dimming the window-pane on which he breathed. That was Tennyson's life, but was patently no brave part of Shakespeare. He knew to shape tragedy, such as Romeo and Juliet; but how to send abroad a cry like Enoch Arden's prayer lay not in him. He compassed our world, but found no way to leave what proved a waterlogged ship; and how to pilot to

  "The undiscovered country, from whose bourne
  No traveler returns,"

puzzles Shakespeare's will as it had Hamlet's.

So not even our great Shakespeare can monopolize life. Some landscapes have not lain like a picture beneath his eyes; he did not exhaust poetry nor life, and room is still left for

"New men, strange faces, other minds,"

for whom,

  "Though much is taken, much abides; and though
  We are not that strength which in old days
  Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are—
  One equal temper of heroic hearts,
  Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
  To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."